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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Arts for Youth Spotlight: Kerry Morton

Kerry Morton in his role as Chad in
Kerry Morton in his role as Chad in "All Shook Up."

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | September 30, 2017

Kerry Morton's latest role is Tom Sawyer in Theatre Bristol's production of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." The play is directed by Steve Baskett and runs through Sept. 10.

"It's a very fun show," Kerry says. "It's tough to adjust to different roles. I was a guitar-playing roustabout, now I'm Tom Sawyer. Many things are different. I change up my whole game. I speak differently. I walk differently. I had to do lots of studying for Tom Sawyer. It's a fun role, he's fun but yet, mean. That's why I really enjoy it."

His first role was at Barter Theatre when he was 7. He got the role of David Gordon in "Believe" only one week before the play opened. "A kid got sick, and I was there in the right place at the right time," he says.

Since that first role, he's worked hard to improve his craft. After he was cast as an ensemble member in Theatre Bristol's "Les MisÚrables," he knew he needed to learn more. "I took vocal lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons and more. They paid off. I busted my tail working on my craft. I wanted to be good," he says.

His roles include Chad in "All Shook Up," Laurie in "Little Women," Chad Danforth in "High School Musical" and others.

"Performing is so thrilling. When the audience gets into the show — either laughing or sobbing — you know you're doing something right. It's like an adrenaline rush. Every time the show opens, those little butterflies get me. I have performed in almost every theater in the area: Barter Theatre, Theatre Bristol, Johnson City Community Theatre, Kingsport Theatre Guild, Nashville Performing Arts and others.

"Theater is something I am very passionate about. Without people supporting the arts, we could not do what we love to do and that's performing. I love meeting people and hearing, "This is my first show, and I absolutely love it. I will definitely have to come watch more.' That means so much," Kerry says.

He prefers musicals, because he loves singing and says musicals always have something in store for the audience.

Kerry credits his parents and teachers as influential people in his theater endeavors.

"My parents are so supportive and come to lots of my shows. My mom and dad always encourage me to do whatever makes me happy. They never push me into anything. Other influences are my teachers, Mrs. Judy Bays and Amber Davis. They are very good at giving feedback and always leading me on to doing bigger things. I am very thankful for everything God has blessed me with. There have been many people that have influenced me on pursuing theater. It's a tough job, and there are so many talented people in the theater world. That's what makes me want to get better," Kerry says.

His most recent training was an unusual choice for the typical actor but not for Kerry: World Wrestling Entertainment. Kerry's father works for WWE and was recently inducted into the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame.

"He is my hero. I look up to him. He goes to the performance center in Orlando and helps train the new tag teams. I had the opportunity to train there. My dad inspires me, and I want to be just as good as he is one day. I hope to pursue some sort of theater activity in the future. It's something I love. I also want to follow my father's footsteps and become a WWE superstar. When I'm not on a stage or playing sports, I'm in the wrestling ring or the gym. My dream is to make it on Broadway. It's very tough, but with God on my side, nothing is impossible," he says.

Kerry is the 16-year-old son of Ricky and Andrea Morton and attends Tennessee High School. He is the captain of the Forensics Team at Tennessee High School and is in an a cappella group with friends from East Tennessee State University. He plays soccer and runs cross-country track.

"I love the arts very much, and I support them. I encourage people to support your local theaters. It makes a difference in our lives," he says.